Gordon Book Review Blog

Player Piano: Book Review

Vonnegut round two.

If you didn't see my first blog about Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, then you might not understand why I have two books by the same author on the blog, especially within such a short time period. No, I am not a Vonnegut fanatic; however, he is the author for my literature enrichment project. Here we go!


The novel takes place post-World War II America, and our main character is a man by the name of Paul Proteus. Paul is an engineer, and he wants to break free from the restraints that society has placed onto him. He searches for a better meaning of life. In order to do so, Paul purchases a farm, attends the annual engineering retreat, and joins the Ghost Shirt Society. The ending of the book is somewhat abrupt, but nonetheless, the ending is appropiate with the entirety of the novel.


The novel shows a clear anti-technology theme. Although Vonnegut wrote this novel in the 1950s, and things such as vacuum tubes seem very archaic and outdated to us, the idea of advancing technology still resonates within the work. Other themes include topics like self-discovery and government/society.


I enjoyed Player Piano much more than Slaughterhouse-Five. As a piece of literature, this novel expresses themes subliminally and it does so wonderfully. Compared to Slaughterhouse-Five, this book actually has a linear plot. Although this may take away from some of Vonnegut's creativity, the story is easier to follow. Player Piano manages to use the classical Vonnegut language that is used in Slaughterhouse-Five, but I found Player Piano to be much more enjoyable.


Player Piano reminds me a lot of George Orwell's 1984. The same overarching theme encompasses both novels: a society from which it is impossible to break away. If you are a fan of Orwell, or dystopian novels in general, Player Piano is the book for you. Even though Vonnegut's claim to fame is that his novels are science fiction, Player Piano embodies the dystopian genre much better than the science fiction genre. I'm hoping to truly find Vonnegut's oh-so famous science fiction in The Sirens of Titan, which is the novel I plan on reading next for my project.


Julia Kirslis

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